New Robot Next Step Toward Sentience

Since the development of vacuum tubes and eventually the integrated circuit, mankind has wondered about the creation of a device that “thinks” and has its own form of consciousness, comparable in some way to it’s creators.  The AISoy1 is not only a robot but its own sort of creature, along with desires, fears and an ability to learn from its environment.  Developed by Spanish robotics firm AISoy Robotics, the robot is being offered as a toy at the moment to explore the relationship between organic types of consciousness and entirely manufactured ones.  

AISoy1 has been said to be capable of memory and learning, taking circumstances which limit its freedom or maximize danger and avoiding similar situations.  Weighing at 3.3 pounds the robot is designed to look cute and is more likely to elicit awed adoration as opposed to fear, as would be expected with the Terminator’s Skynet or even Colossus from the book of the same name.  the AI1 also will seek out “love” and “nourishment”, behaving in a similar fashion to an organic pet.  While details on AI1 are still not completely forthcoming, they will be released later in August and will be expected to, although expensive, making quite an impression on robotics enthusiasts.

As can be expected, any new step in the direction of Artificially intelligent robots will allow these devices to enjoy some level of success as can be seen in the popularity of the Furby franchise which began in 1998 and the Robosapien released in 2005.  The AISoy1, however, is said to be the first mobile robot to have its own artificial form of intelligence and learning.

Every year robotics slowly integrates itself more and more into our lives.  In Japan, the I-Fairy conducted a wedding ceremony, the first of its kind to be conducted by a robot.  With robotic telepresence becoming the more effective way for people to remotely interact with various offices, robots are suspected to become a very large part of everyday life.  No longer do we live in a world of simplistic, autonomous mobile machine, such as the Roomba, but rather we are finding ourselves increasingly surrounded by intelligent machines which not only interact with the environment but learn from it as well.

How soon will it be, then, that incredibly simple tasks are not the only things being done by robots but rather more complex ones requiring precision and a data base of knowledge, such as surgery?  Will other industries, just as the auto industry did, see a sort of revolution where increasingly robots are used instead of humans, and how will this affect the social order?  Will improved robotics allow and an improved quality of life or will we ultimately be faced into the few remaining jobs that robots cannot perform?  And perhaps, most disturbingly, is their any task beyond a sufficiently skilled robot?